Late in the day, when the westering sun is just starting to angle down through river's overhanging tangle of sycamores, while the evening light is still strong and warm, the resident pair of Canada geese who usually call the downstream section below the Cottage Pool home, often decided they'll head somewhere upstream before nightfall.
As usual, the male leads the way. But before taking wing for their journey, they pause at the bottom edge of the big riffle. While the female paddles in tight circles about the upper end of the pool, the gander lodges himself smack at the edge of the riffle's rocks where the fast, tumbling current merges with the pool's quiet surface. Sometimes he can't hold himself against the flow and has to readjust his position, jamming his breast in one churning pocket between the rocks after another, until he finds that perfect place to wedge himself against the turbulence.
At this point, grounded as best he can manage, his raises his body, extends his long neck, and peers upstream—head turning this way and that like a periscope on a submarine, sharp eyes scrutinizing every inch of water, rocks, bushes, trees, and sky ahead, looking for the lest hint of danger in their quarter-mile flight path from the here to the bend. This intense and careful reconnoitering takes several long minutes, but he never rushes.
Finally, satisfied that he and missus will be safe, his honks his intentions, says "Follow me!" and lifts off…a huge, lovely, powerful bird, caught between water and sky, back feathers turned golden by the waning sun. And after only the briefest hesitation, his mate follows.